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Connacht install new attack coach, but have 4 injury worries before start of new season

Pat Lam’s centre options for the opening month of the season have taken a hit.

CONNACHT ANALYST CONOR McPhillips has been promoted to the Westerners’ coaching ticket as assistant attack coach ahead of the new Pro12 season.

McPhillips, who coached Connacht Sevens last month, will continue on as head analyst, but will now officially support head coach Pat Lam and backs coach Andre Bell.

Jimmy Duffy, Pat Lam, Dave Ellis, Andre Bell and Conor McPhillips Jimmy Duffy, Forwards Coach, Pat Lam, Head Coach, Dave Ellis, Skills Coach, Andre Bell, Backs & Kicking Coach and Conor McPhillips, Assistant Attack Coach Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Since I came in two years ago he has been out with us on the training pitch and doing a lot of work behind the scenes from a coaching perspective,” Lam says of the man who held the accolade of being Connacht’s record try-scorer before being surpassed by Fionn Carr.

“He is hugely passionate and I know he really enjoyed the recent Sevens experience as a coach. He did a great job working with players that had never played the game before and under quite a bit of time pressure.

“He will still head up our analysis team but his role will also include helping me and the other coaches in structuring our team attack whilst also analysing the opponent’s attack.”

Api Pewhairangi Api Pewhairangi has suffered an unfortunate blow to the start of his career as a union centre. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McPhillips joins Lam, Bell, Jimmy Duffy (forwards) and Dave Ellis (skills) to complete the Connacht coaching ticket. That quintet go in to Friday’s league opener at home to the Dragons with four injury concerns, with centre options the worst hit.

Newly converted rugby league player Api Pewhairangi has been ruled out for up to three months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the pre-season meeting with Castres.

Inside centre Dave McSharry is undergoing return to play protocols following a concussion, while both Darragh Leader and Niyi Adeolokun need about a month before pulling on the green jersey again.

Leader strained a wrist ligament in the win over Munster and will be kept in a plaster for three weeks. Adeolokun strained his posterior cruciate ligament and will require four weeks to recover.

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Sean Farrell

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